Sunday, January 23, 2011

a new valentine tradition

I recently read this book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions, by Noel Piper for our Moms group at church.  I highly recommend reading it, as it has truly changed the way I view our family traditions and gave some great ideas for new ones to start. (I think you can read it for free somewhere online too... Google it.)  Chad and I already have a lot of traditions that we do with our kids, especially at Christmastime, but this book changed how we present them to our kids - trying to make sure that we keep God at the heart of them.

So, in thinking about the upcoming V-Day and what we'd do with our kids, I thought of the same old thing we do every year - give them valentines and a little gift and make some valentine cookies or heart-shaped something-or-other.  Big deal, right?  I know... it's lame, but since Valentine's Day isn't really a big "Christian holiday," and mainly focuses on an armed, flying, naked baby and over-priced greeting cards, we never really made a huge deal over it.  So I didn't really think about changing it up much.  It's just Valentine's Day after all.

 And then it struck me.

This is a day all about LOVE.  And what greater love do we have than the love of our heavenly Father?  Shouldn't we embrace this day to teach our children about how much we love them and ultimately, how much more God loves them?  Really, if you think about it, it's an amazing opportunity.

So... that left me thinking about what to do.  Something that will show them our love and God's love for them and something that they'll look forward to every year.  So far, I've only come up with a few ideas.  One of them was a no-brainer.  It's a book we already had - Adeline, written by Bobby Strickland and illustrated by Kathryn Rathke:

Adeline

Of course I love the title, since it's my oldest daughter's name, but that's really beside the point.  This is a wonderfully written book about a little girl, Adeline Addison, who receives several Valentines on the big day from admirers, but they all have the same message,
"You are the one I will always adore.  
But there is another who loves you much more."
This puzzles her, but at the end of the day she is delighted when she discovers that her "secret admirer" is God. 
"Then a thought flooded Adeline's heart to the brim:
'If God loves me this much, then I'll live for him!
And the love I've discovered is much too profound
to keep all to myself - I must tell the whole town!'"
So little Adeline takes her ginormous stack of valentines and makes a mountain with them for everyone to see and stakes a big sign on top that reads, "God Loves You Too!"
"Then Valentine Mountain,
as it came to be known,
was a message of love
from God's heavenly throne
to a kingdom of creatures
who might not have heard,
had it not been for Adeline's
mound of kind words."
Seriously.  Get this book.  I think it may be out of print now, but try to get your hands on a copy.  You won't regret it.  And at 30 pages in length, it's a nice size read too.  (We also have Adeline's Porcupine, which is another amazing book about true beauty - a must-read for every little girl.)

So, back to our traditions - we're going to make it a tradition to read Adeline every V-Day, of course.  But I also thought it'd be fun to hide valentines around the house that have the same message on them - "You are the one I will always adore.  But there is another who loves you much more." And then have different verses on them about God's love for us, like 1 John 3:1 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God." and 1 John 4:9, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." 

Of course, we'll still make heart-shaped something-or-others, and give a little gift, but now there will be a bigger meaning to it all.  And I'd love to get more ideas if you have any to offer.  

Anyone?  

What's your favorite Valentine's tradition?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

a good pop

So, I woke up yesterday morning unable to move my head or upper body without extreme pain and nausea.  I somehow managed to take care of Millie and Tate, although Tate didn't quite understand why I couldn't pick him up, so he did a lot of fussing about that.  And Chad's home with me today, so that is an ENORMOUS help, of course!  But I just had to share this funny scenario that happened after we got back from the chiropractor last night:

Me: Ugh, I'm still in just as much pain as I was before.  I guess I was just hoping for a really good pop to take care of it all.
Addie: (goes to the fridge and comes back with a 2-liter of pop and a helpful smile) Here you go, Mom.

I, of course, drank the pop and said nothing but "thank you." :)

Oh how I love that sweet girl.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

beating the winter blahs

Yikes. I just saw that my last post was over 2 weeks ago. But I guess that's just how January is for me. Not because I'm busy, but because I have 
nothing exciting to blog about and my fingers are too lazy to type the 
pointless thoughts parading through my brain.  
For that you should be thankful.

But we have been trying our best to beat these winter blahs. Here are a 
few ways we've succeeded:
*****
Pulling a chair up to the window to stare at the snow.  
I know... sounds exciting, huh?
 But Tate loves it.  At least for a few minutes.  And Millie loves playing mommy to Tate and having him sit on her lap.

*****
Having a slumber party with our cousins and Nana and Baba.
 We all pulled up our Pillow Pets and watched "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs."
Tate did his best to bother the girls as much as possible.  Of course, he was very successful.  He's just practicing for all those girly slumber parties in our future that he'll be crashing.
(p.s... isn't that owl pillow cute?  My sister-in-law made that for us and there's an owl for each member of our family.  Usually it's taken care of much better than that... I promise!)
 Chad went to a youth retreat for two nights with my brother and sister-in-law, so my parents came up to help me take care of the kiddos.  They were planning on watching them alone so I could go too, but after my dad's heart issues and pneumonia, he didn't have enough strength to help with all those little rascals.
Poor Baba... we kept him in the La-Z-Boy all weekend.  But he was good for cuddling with the little ones.
 And here's my super helpful mom!  Don't think I could've survived without her!

***** 
Another way we've been beating the blahs...
Practicing our balancing acts on Daddy's back.
 ...which may explain why he now has a knot...

*****
Cuddling up with our siblings.
 This was such a rare moment.  Tate never lies or sits still for longer than 5 seconds.
 This may have lasted a whole 20 seconds.  Just long enough to grab the camera.

*****
Attending Princess parties!

*****
Scrapbooking with Mommy!
 Addie's been asking for several months now if she could scrapbook with me (although I rarely get a chance to do it), so we got her a scrapbook for Christmas.
We took advantage of her having yesterday off of school and spent Tate's 
naptime scrapping. It was so fun!!

*****
And last but not certainly not least, Odie is great for helping us laugh during these cold days.
video

So... what have you been doing to beat the winter blahs?

Monday, January 3, 2011

the "pee cart" strikes back

Guess what happened at Target today?

Well, if you read my post from a few weeks ago, you'll remember that I noticed half-way through my trip that my cart reeked of pee.  And no, it was not from my children.  And no, there were no puddles warning me of the odorous hazard lurking in the cart.  And yes, I did alert the proper authorities and they did whisk away the cart where I assume they sprayed it down.

But I must've gotten the same cart again today, because shortly into our journey, I smelled it again.  And it was definitely coming from the cart.  I'm guessing the odor must've soaked into the plastic and they can't get it out and it's probably pretty pricey to replace those ginormous "kid-carts."

So, let this serve as a warning to those of you who shop at my Target (*ahem* Amy).  Before strapping your children into a cart (the ones with the big area in front for 2 kids to face each other), make sure you sniff it out thoroughly.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

christmas: take 5

Whew.  We just recently finished a round of 5 family Christmas celebrations.  So, of course, I have a ton of pictures to post.  I thought about just skipping a Christmas post this year, but then decided that even if my general viewing public is bored to tears, who cares?  I still want to document our holiday, so brace yourselves for the Great Christmas Slideshow.

Christmas #1: My family
We headed down the Saturday before Christmas to celebrate with my side.
 What an awesome present!
(Although the convection oven would've been nice too...)

The girls were pretty excited about Tate's toy too. 

And here's my lovely parents who hosted all us hooligans.
 Straighten up, Dad.

That's better.
(Side note: My dad went into the hospital on Christmas Eve with heart problems and ended up catching pneumonia on top of it all.  They were eventually able to shock his heart back into rhythm - it had been beating at 150-190 when it should be in the 80s - and he finally got to go home on Wednesday.  What a great way for them to spend Christmas, huh?)

Christmas #2: Our family
Our Christmas celebration started on the 22nd (which we pretended was Christmas Eve since we were leaving for Michigan on the 23rd) with our traditional Christmas Eve hamball dinner.  If you're not from Iowa, you might not understand out love for hamballs - but trust me, they're amazing!  They've even become my Michigander husband's favorite meal!  

After dinner, Chad read the Christmas passage from the Bible as we anticipated Jesus' birthday.

Then each of the kids got to open one present.  This year's gift - robes!
 Don't they look all warm and cozy?

We ended the night by snuggling up in the living room and watching a good Christmas movie.

Christmas morning (well, actually it was the 23rd...), they ran downstairs to find this:
 Woot woot!

We didn't want our Christmas to feel rushed (which was difficult since we had a 10 hour + drive ahead of us), but we were afraid it was going to take all day once the girls started pulling out each of the 24 silly bandz and rings out of their stockings one at a time and ooh-ing and aah-ing over each one.

The girls each got to spend $5 on each other.  Here they are posing with their gifts.
 And no, they didn't get Tate silly bandz.  They got him some cars, but he was too into the silly bandz to notice.

Addie's Sleeping Beauty musical globe was a huge hit for all.

Another favorite was the Zhu Zhu pets!

But the most exciting presents were definitely the Pillow Pets!!

After opening all the presents, we gathered around the table to listen to Daddy read The Light of Christmas by Dandi Daley Mackall.  If you need a good book that explains the true meaning of Christmas and encompasses the gospel in a way that even children can understand, you must check this out.  We looked and looked for the perfect book and this was by far our favorite.
 After the story, we lit the candles on the Monkey Bread and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and then devoured as much of it as our tummies would allow.

Then began our 10 1/2 hour drive to northern Michigan, in which Tate only slept for 45 minutes and fussed for about 70% of the time.  Fun.

We knew we were close to Nana and Papa's house when we came across a sign like this.
At least they were hibernating.  But we did get to see deer in their backyard in broad daylight.

Christmas #3: Nana B's side (Christmas Eve)
And so begins the Michigan series of Christmases (all hosted by Chad's parents).  I got to see my "sister" Betsy again!  Actually, she's Chad's cousin, so we're not related at all, but we always get mistaken for sisters. She just moved back from France in August after being an "au pair," but is moving back there again in a few weeks.  Lucky girl.

Part of the clan.

The lovely sisters.

The girls made a few new friends.

Christmas #4: Papa B's side (Christmas Day)
All of the little reindeer with their Great Grandpa and Great Grandma.

The kids enjoyed Papa's surprise in the basement - a pair of Cadillac Escalades!!
Watch out, Decklin, I hear Millie's a crazy driver. 

 But apparently not as crazy as Elsie.  Hold on, Addie!
Can't wait to take these in their backyard this summer!

The girls entertained us all with Christmas carols, sung from the very popular catwalk.
 Millie's up there too (on the far left), she's just not tall enough to see over the railing.

I thought the guys were playing a serious card game.  So I was surprised when I saw this:
Rock, Paper, Scissors?  Really?  Notice that no one chose paper.  Paper's for sissies.

The kids eventually tired out and ended up in the den in their new jammies.



 And finally,
Christmas #5: Daddy's side
We celebrated with Chad's family the day after Christmas.

Addie was thrilled to get a set of 16 Junie B. Jones chapter books.
This girl LOVES to read.  I'm pretty sure she's already read at least half of these in less than a week!

Once Tate got his football, he was all set.

And more Michigan highlights:
Daddy and Nana took the kids out in the snow.  Nana went in my place. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.  I'm not a fan of the cold.



 The girls got adorable matching outfits.

 The kids enjoyed soaking in the deep tub.

And we all enjoyed soaking in the hot tub.

We loved getting to see Uncle Mark all week!

 Tate learned how to wear out Nana and Papa.
They went around and around and around in the basement.

 On Wednesday, we left the kids with Nana, Papa and Mark and headed off to Traverse City to meet up with our old friends, Scott and Dawn.
We had lunch at Don's Drive-In.
(Hmmm... there's something unusual about this picture...)

 And dinner at The Blue Tractor.
(Yikes. It's happening in this one too... why does this photo feel a little, um... off?)

Ah-ha!  So, that's what it was!  The boys were wearing matching shirts.  At least they were different colors.  Oh, Chad wants me to mention that this was not planned. But it still deserved a special photo in front of the fireplace.
Isn't that precious?

Scott and Dawn suggested this cozy cabin for the night.  It was beautiful!



The men prepared breakfast for us the next morning.  Aw, how sweet.

Sausage and eggs.  Yummy.

So, there you have it.  Our Christmas in 42 pictures.  

Is anyone still reading this?

If so, I hope you had a Merry Christmas too!